FXI Law Clinic Cases

The FXI has contributed to the body of knowledge on freedom of expression in South Africa through cases undertaken by the FXI Law Clinic. The FXI Law Clinic has intervened in over 200 freedom of expression related matters since its inception. 

Brief history of the FXI Law Clinic

The Media Defence Trust was established in 1989 in response to the wave of state action against the media, such as the closure of newspapers and detention of journalists. In its six years of establishment the Media Defence Trust was the sole supporter and defender of independent media and journalists. The Media Defence Trust was incorporated into the FXI in 1994, at the request of its administrators, and became the Defence Fund of the FXI. The Defence Fund was re-launched as the Freedom of Expression Defence Fund in 1997 to reflect the broadening of its role to include all cases involving freedom of expression and access to information. The Freedom of Expression Institute Law Clinic was established in 2005 and is accredited by the Law Society of South Africa.

Andile Nomabhunga (The Informer) and Nontsikelelo Matubatuba
This matter involves a defamation. The FXI was approached by the defendant (Andile Nomabhunga) in this matter. The Applicant claims that the defendant had defamed her in an article published in the local newspaper called the Informer.
The matter was heard before the Press Tribunal, a judgement was handed down and the defendant was compliant with the judgement. However the Applicant pursuit with a civil claim against the Defendant.
The defendant received legal counsel from Shepstone and Wylie.

FXI Objective: Anti-Censorship
January 27 2017 By Freedom Of Expression Institute

Protesting Diro Mine Workers
Miners from Khathu had not been paid in 5 months by their employer Diro. The miners organised a march on the 6th of September against the employer, who is situated in Centurion.
The employer subsequently issued an interdict against the miners, on the 13th of September 11 employees got arrested for public violence, malicious damage to property and contravention of the court interdict.

The group was due to appear on the 14th, however the matter was not put on the roll as there was not sufficient evidence to prosecute.

FXI Objective: Anti-Centorship
January 27 2017 By Bongani Phiri

Our client, the defendant, Heidi Lee Smith was served summons from Southern Palace Investments for defamation and damages to the amount of R850 000.00, based on a publication in our clients community newspaper, Kruger2Canyon. The matter had reached a trial ready stage when the plaintiffs seemed to stop pursuance of the matter.

The matter is of particular interest to the FXI given the continually growing trend of the use of frivolous litigation by persons to censor community media i.e. newspapers from publishing matters that concern them, that they do not want known.
December 05 2016 By Freedom Of Expression Institute

Tom Nkhosi (Ziwaphi) and Eddy Mabuza
Tom had written a publication in November 2016. He received a Phone call from one of the individuals mentioned in the article requesting proof that he did in fact request he answer questions( right of reply). Tome forwarded the proof, nothing further came of this.
November 10 2016 By Bongani Phiri

Assmang (Pty) Ltd and P Moseki and 3 others
Certain individuals of the community based organisation CCG have been interdicted from encouraging and participating in unlawful protests among other things after organizing and participating in protest action against the mine (Assmang). The FXI Law clinic is assisting with legal representation and defending the CCG against what we consider to be a violation of the constitutional right to protest. The Matter was heard in the opposed role on the 27th of October 2016 with judgement delivered on the 18th of November 2016 against our clients. After consultation with counsel the application for leave to appeal was filed on the 7th of December 2016.

FXI Objective: Anti-Censorship
October 26 2016 By Freedom Of Expression Institute

HG Travelling Services CC and Impact News
Impact News had written a publication in October 2016. He then received a letter form one of the individuals mentioned in the letter requesting he issue a retraction. Impact news acknowledged incorrect procedures and agreed to rewrite the story with a fair and accurate reflection of HG Travelling Services.
October 01 2016 By Bongani Phiri

Moreipuso Traditional council and Speaker Mahlake / any other person(s) acting upon his instruction
The FXI represented the Defendant in this matter. The case involved the Moreipuso issuing an interdict against Speaker Mahlake from hosting a Heritage celebration event on the 24th of September 2016 at Wales
The interdicted only limited the defendant from using the venue on the 24th September, the defendant complied with the interdict and organized an alternative venue and proceeded with the event.
Since the interim was only for the 24th of September, it would have been defunct to have made the interdict final as the date had already passed.
The applicant's attorneys decided not to pursue the matter any further.
FXI Objective: Anti-Censorship
September 24 2016 By Bongani Phiri

The respondent Sylvia Vollenhoven had been commissioned by the SABC to produce and air a documentary titled "The spear", the SABC later decided not to air it however, in which instance Ms Vollenhoven sought to buy it from them and air it, which they still refused to do. The SABC then sought to interdict Vollenhoven from claiming any rights to the documentary and airing it.(FXI Amicus)

This depicts the censorship that goes on in the public broadcaster, which has a clear mandate in airing issues of public interest tailored for the South Africa public with absolute independence (without fear or favour) from any influence.
Open/View PDF (SABC-v-Via-Vollenhoven.pdf)
September 02 2016 By Bongani Phiri SABC

Munyai Nyawasedza Anna and Editor in Chief: Ngoho News & Blusky Developments Communications
The Plaintiff is suing the Defendant (a community newspaper) for 3 million rands in damages for a defamation claim for a article that was written in May 2012. All documents have been filed in the matter and the matter needs to be set down for trial.

Anti censorship
May 02 2012 By Freedom Of Expression Institute

Manuel v. Crawford-Browne (2471/08) [2008] ZAWCHC 13 (3 Mar. 2008)
Mr. Manuel brought a defamation suit against Mr. Crawford-Browne, a prominent campaigner against an arms deal completed by Mr. Manuel in his role as Minister of Finance. The defamatory comments alleged extreme misconduct, including tax evasion and corruption, and stated that Mr. Manuel had "prostituted himself for the sake of political perks and power."

The Court noted that, as in all defamatory cases, two rights had to be balanced-dignity (section 10 of the Constitution) and freedom of expression (section 16 of the Constitution). While the Judge emphasized that freedom of expression should not be limited lightly, the Minister was still entitled to protect his reputation. The repetitive nature of the respondent's attacks seemed to sway the Court towards finding Mr. Crawford-Browne's statements as defamatory. The Court rejected the notion that an apology constituted sufficient remedy pointing to the aggressiveness and repetitiveness of the respondent in his attacks against the appellant. The Court ordered the respondent to cease making similar statements and to remove all allegations from his website accusing appellant of corruption or other criminal conduct.
March 03 2008 By Bongani Phiri

Kerr Luzoko Hoho and the State
Mr Hoho was convicted of criminal defamation in 2005 in the Bhisho High Court. This was confirmed by the SCA in 2008. Mr Hoho would however like to appeal the conviction and has approached FXI to assist. We approached counsel to prepare a legal opinion on the viability of such an action.
January 05 2008 By Bongani Phiri

Moreipuso Traditional council and Speaker Mahlake / any other person(s)
This matter related to a Heritage Day event in Bushbuckridge.
Open/View PDF (PLEADINGS.pdf)
June 12 2001 By Tusi Fokane